May is the last month of the school year when I visit preschools, which means it's my month to encourage kids to visit me at the library over the summer. I try and choose fun, funny, engaging stories to go out with a bang and make story time extra memorable. Here's what I've been taking to classrooms this month:
Opening Song: "Open, Shut Them"
Story: Scary Mary by Paula Bowles
I used this story to great success at my April Milk & Cookies Story Morning, and I gave it an encore performance with this new audience. They enjoyed it, and they also thoughtfully gave comments on why it is better to be nice to others than to be mean or scary.
A colleague recommended this story as a great read-aloud last month, and I am happy to report that she was correct--my kiddos really enjoyed this story. Calvin, a dog, is dismayed to find that Gloria, a cat, is now living at his house, and his attention from his owners has dwindled. Of course he blames Gloria; until another animal is added to the mix, that is. We talked about why being friendly might be better than growling or being mad at a new pet/friend; this book would also work well for children with new siblings.
Rhyme: "The Grand Old Duke of York"
We did this rhyme as a stretch rhyme, clapping our laps to march and then raising/lowering our hands as the rhyme dictates. Much to the children's delight, we tried to do the rhyme faster and faster until finally all we could do was move our hands. Lots of giggles ensued.
Story: There's a Nightmare in My Closet by Mercer Mayer
This book and its counterparts by Mayer are classics for a reason: perfect pacing, safe exploration of children's fears, and humor mixed in. These books never fail to quiet the entire room of children as anticipation mounts.
Rhyme: "Five Little Monkeys Swinging in a Tree"
I think I would have riots on my hands if I didn't finish off the outreach year with my five monkey finger puppets and Al, my alligator puppet. Have you ever asked children to practice their alligator chomping noises? They are impressive.
I hadn't originally planned on using this story this month, but when it showed up on my desk the morning of my first May outreach visit, I knew I had to work it in. This title is slightly longer than the others, but it holds high potential for absurdity and hilarity. I don't want to spoil it for you--check it out at your earliest opportunity. Suffice it to say that this was a perfect story to end with.
Closing Song: "If You're Happy and You Know It"
Normally, I use "If you're happy and you know it, wave goodbye" as the closing verse for this song when I am indoors in classrooms. On the last story time visit of the school year, though, I'm willing to get noisy and default to the traditional "shout 'hooray!'" Oh, yes, it gets loud, especially on the last line when children really give it their all. If that last moment of fun is how they remember the year in story time? Well, then I think I've done my job.